Making the most of your freezer, will do wonders for your budget. It’s great for saving time (you can do a meal preparation ahead of time) and saving money (you can buy in bulk). But to make the most of these benefits, you need to do it right. Read on for a few tried and tested tips about freezing food.
A freezer can save you a lot of time. You can prep meals ahead of time, freeze them in suitable portions (single or family size), and take them out on days when you don’t have time to prepare dinner. You can also make use of supermarket sales. Buy meat (which is often an expensive item) when it’s on sale, and freeze it. This way you can have meat available for months, and don’t have to pay a high price for it.
Thick plastic wrap and heavy-duty foil is the best to use for breads, cakes, and muffins. This will keep them from drying out, and they won’t absorb flavors from other foods. If you store foods like pancakes, use parchment paper (or greaseproof paper) between the items to prevent them from sticking.
If you like to make soups, make it in large batches and freeze portions. This works especially well if you’re cooking only for yourself. Don’t store the soup inn plastic containers – this will waste space and it will take too long to thaw. Rather pour a portion of soup into a Ziploc bag, and freeze flat in your freezer.
Prevent freezer burn on meat and vegetables, by reducing its exposure to air. Make sure you wrap all items tightly, in a double layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Foods with freezer burn are completely safe to eat, but it does affect the taste and texture of your food. So you might not like the flavor.
Ice trays are a great way to make use of small leftovers. Use it to store small portions of pureed baby food, pasta sauces, and pestos. You can also use them to store fresh herbs. Add herbs to the holes, top with olive oil and freeze. When you want to use the herbs, you simply pop them out and sauté in a pan.
For food safety reasons, thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator. This is especially applicable to meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products like cheese or milk. Soup should also be thawed in the refrigerator. Take the food out of the freezer the night before, and let it thaw overnight. The next day it would be ready to use!
If you have to defrost something quickly (and safely), use cold water. Place the frozen food package in a bowl with cold water. Replace the water every half an hour or so until the food is thawed. This works better for small portions of meat or poultry as opposed to large chunks of frozen food. Make sure to use cold water and not hot water.
If your bread is always becoming moldy, then store it in the freezer. This works for sliced bread (as well as bagels and buns). Take out only what you need. Bagels can be thawed in the microwave (at medium power), while bread slices can be toasted. This also works for muffins.
Expensive items (like nuts) can be bought in bulk and stored in the freezer. If stored in the freezer, nuts won’t go as rancid quickly. In fact, some stay fresh for up to one year (especially pecans!). Simply add them to a Ziploc bag, seal tightly, and store in the freezer. They don’t need to be thawed and can be used straight from the freezer.
Keep flour safe from flour beetles and other bugs by storing them in the freezer. Some flours can be stored for up to two years, and it will also keep them safe from deterioration, preventing the rancid taste. If you’re baking with flour, just remember to let the flour get to room temperature first before using it.
Save time by preparing onions and other vegetables for freezing. No one wants to waste time chopping onions during the week, so why not prep them beforehand? Simply peel and chop a bunch of onions, and freeze them in Ziploc bags. You can do the same for celery, red peppers, and chilies, and only take out what you need!